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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 23, 2019
Joanna James Joanna James
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Local dishes to try in Sri Lanka – A Treat for the Tastebuds

Here are some local favourites you might want to sample while vacationing in Sri Lanka.



Originally of a dutch origin, this meal is made of a parcel of rice, mixed meats and sides, all wrapped up and baked in banana leaves. The rice is infused with coconut milk, which gives it an addictively soothing and mouth watering flavour. The traditional recipe for the mixed meats made use of a variety of meats such as chicken, beef and pork. However, due to limitations on the intake of certain kinds of meat faced by the Buddhist, Muslim and Hindu populations, vendors these days usually only keep a chicken preparation inside along with a non-traditional fish cutlet and deep fried boiled egg, in order to cater to clientele from all religious backgrounds. Other modern day side dishes included in lamprais today are eggplant moju (mentioned below) and seeni sambol.


Kothu Rotti

If you ever go on a night out in Sri Lanka's capital, this is the dish to try. Open late at night and in the wee hours of the morning on the streets of Colombo, many little roadside eateries offer this simple yet delicious dish made of chopped up rotti strips and an assortment of shredded meats and slice vegetables. The latest evolution of this dish involves adding cream cheese chunks inside that melt and form a gooey mess that binds the meat and rotti together, taking this preparation to the next level of awesomeness. Truly a must try!


Eggplant Moju

Calling all veggies! Whether you're a vegetarian or a bonafide meat lover, this deliciously hearty dish will have you swooning. Made from sliced eggplant slivers, this is a dry preparation that is full or seasoning and spice. The eggplant pieces are first seasoned and then deep fried before being used to whip up a very dry curry, almost to a pickle or chutney like consistency. It really does pack a punch and goes well with local carb staples such as rice, string hoppers and pittu. This recipe is quite rich however and will leave you feeling quite full, which is why it is usually an accompaniment to other dishes such as curry and salads. If you would prefer to have eggplant as a main dish, request for deep fried eggplant curry instead. This preparation will come with coconut gravy and is less rich, allowing it to be eaten as a main. Whether you're in Colombo or in tourist destinations such as Sigiriya, restaurants and local resorts such as Water Garden Sigiriya, are likely to have eggplant moju on their menu, so be sure to ask! Even if it is not, the chefs will likely be happy to make some for you if you ask.


Jaffna Crab Curry

This delicious dish hails from Sri Lanka's northernmost province of Jaffna. Fresh crab from the waters surrounding the island is simmered in a stock full of local spices and seasoning, along with a healthy dose of chilli powder. If you don't do well with spice, however, there is some good news for you. This recipe includes a hearty amount of fresh coconut milk which is added to the curry closer to the end stages of preparation. This balances out the spice and gives the curry a light but creamy consistency that complements the crab flesh well. The gravy may well be the tastiest part of the dish, some may say even tastier than the crab meat itself! Be sure to try it out with the usual mains such as rice and pittu. It can also go well with local roast bread and butter straight from the local bakery.